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Thread: Franz Liszt

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    Default Franz Liszt



    Liszt was the only contemporary whose music Richard Wagner gratefully acknowledged as an influence upon his own. His lasting fame was an alchemy of extraordinary digital ability -- the greatest in the history of keyboard playing -- an unmatched instinct for showmanship, and one of the most progressive musical imaginations of his time. Hailed by some as a visionary, reviled by others as a symbol of empty Romantic excess, Franz Liszt wrote his name across music history in a truly inimitable manner.

    From his youth, Liszt demonstrated a natural facility at the keyboard that placed him among the top performing prodigies of his day. Though contemporary accounts describe his improvisational skill as dazzling, his talent as a composer emerged only in his adulthood. Still, he was at the age of eleven the youngest contributor to publisher Anton Diabelli's famous variation commissioning project, best remembered as the inspiration for Beethoven's final piano masterpiece. An oft-repeated anecdote -- first recounted by Liszt himself decades later, and possibly fanciful -- has Beethoven attending a recital given by the youngster and bestowing a kiss of benediction upon him.

    Though already a veteran of the stage by his teens, Liszt recognized the necessity of further musical tuition. He studied for a time with Czerny and Salieri in Vienna, and later sought acceptance to the Paris Conservatory. When he was turned down there -- foreigners were not then admitted -- he instead studied privately with Anton Reicha. Ultimately, his Hungarian origins proved a great asset to his career, enhancing his aura of mystery and exoticism and inspiring an extensive body of works, none more famous than the Hungarian Rhapsodies (1846-1885).

    Liszt soon became a prominent figure in Parisian society, his romantic entanglements providing much material for gossip. Still, not even the juiciest accounts of his amorous exploits could compete with the stories about his wizardry at the keyboard. Inspired by the superhuman technique -- and, indeed, diabolical stage presence -- of the violinist Paganini, Liszt set out to translate these qualities to the piano. As his career as a touring performer, conductor, and teacher burgeoned, he began to devote an increasing amount of time to composition. He wrote most of his hundreds of original piano works for his own use; accordingly, they are frequently characterized by technical demands that push performers -- and in Liszt's own day, the instrument itself -- to their limits. The "transcendence" of his Transcendental Etudes (1851), for example, is not a reference to the writings of Emerson and Thoreau, but an indication of the works' level of difficulty. Liszt was well into his thirties before he mastered the rudiments of orchestration -- works like the Piano Concerto No. 1 (1849) were orchestrated by talented students -- but made up for lost time in the production of two "literary" symphonies (Faust, 1854-1857, and Dante, 1855-1856) and a series of orchestral essays (including Les préludes, 1848-1854) that marks the genesis of the tone poem as a distinct genre.

    After a lifetime of near-constant sensation, Liszt settled down somewhat in his later years. In his final decade he joined the Catholic Church and devoted much of his creative effort to the production of sacred works. The complexion of his music darkened; the flash that had characterized his previous efforts gave way to a peculiar introspection, manifested in strikingly original, forward-looking efforts like Nuages gris (1881). Liszt died in Bayreuth, Germany, on July 31, 1886, having outlived Wagner, his son-in-law and greatest creative beneficiary.

    (Article taken from All Music Guide)


    What do you all think of this wonderful composer? His orchestral works and piano concertos are just amazing.

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    Good piano composer - the Faust Symphony isn't particularly inspired..
    Si vos agnosco is tunc vos es quoque erudio

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bach View Post
    The Faust Symphony isn't particularly inspired..
    Nothing you say is particularly inspired.
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    Senior Member Bach's Avatar
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    Oh, my mistake - the Faust symphony is one of the finest examples of 19th century orchestral composition.
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    Si vos agnosco is tunc vos es quoque erudio

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bach View Post
    Oh, my mistake - the Faust symphony is one of the finest examples of 19th century orchestral composition.
    Love the biting sarcasm. Can I get fries with that?
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    Senior Member Bach's Avatar
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    An American who recognises the subtleties (...) of rhetoric. For you, fries are the least I can offer.
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    Si vos agnosco is tunc vos es quoque erudio

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bach View Post
    An American who recognises the subtleties (...) of rhetoric. For you, fries are the least I can offer.
    Then again this is coming from somebody who has a picture of Bach on their avatar. Such an intellectual pinhead you are.

    But then again that's Bach for you, all intellect and no soul.
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    Senior Member Bach's Avatar
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    Aren't you a lovely fella..
    Si vos agnosco is tunc vos es quoque erudio

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    So, yeah, moving swiftly on...
    I really like Liszt, especially his piano works. Shame they're just too darn difficult to probably ever play!

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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    We are such a contrary species. For me the Liszt piano works represent over the top romantic bombast, or have in the past anyway. I think my personal tastes did not lean toward so much rubato and dramatic pauses -- although for some reason dramatic pauses do not bother me in Beethoven.

    But recently I rediscovered the awsome power of his orchestral tone poems. Les Preludes must have made people faint in its day if a truly large orchestra was used. It has certainly made my own heart race.

    So I'm willing to give the piano works another chance.

    I have always respected Liszt as one of the first rock stars so to speak. He led quite a colorful life, culminating in profound sprituality. Someday I must find a full biography to read.

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    Senior Member jurianbai's Avatar
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    virtuosic but too complicated. I only remember love his waltzs and of course the bloody Liebesträume, ironic it's Richard Clayderman that introduce it to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jurianbai View Post
    virtuosic but too complicated. I only remember love his waltzs and of course the bloody Liebesträume, ironic it's Richard Clayderman that introduce it to me.
    It could be worse. I was introduced to Liebesträume via the awful Ken Russel movie Lisztomania. Trust me, none of you want to go there. [And my sincerest apologies for even bringing it up in these forums.]

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    Quote Originally Posted by Weston View Post
    It could be worse. I was introduced to Liebesträume via the awful Ken Russel movie Lisztomania. Trust me, none of you want to go there. [And my sincerest apologies for even bringing it up in these forums.]
    Thanks for bringing up some bad memories!

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    Senior Member David C Coleman's Avatar
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    The Symphonic poems are really interesting. (Don't forget he developed the medium). Nr. 1 called "Bergsymphonie" is symphonic in stature, length and vision. And is a remarkable composition for its era..

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    I think that Liszt's Piano Concertos were groundbreaking works. I mean, within a decade or so of Beethoven's death, Liszt had done away with the sonata form & replaced it with a free rhapsodic form. Of course they're technically brilliant & virtuostic, but there's also a fair amount of poetry, especially in the second. Not to mention drama. Given a good soloist, like Georges Cziffra, Casadesus or Thibaudet, these works can really shine. The Totentanz & Hungarian Fantasy are representative works also.
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